fest preview

Romance, jokers, and one dangerous massage: 10 must-see films at LA’s Outfest 2023

(clockwise from top left) ‘Down Low,’ ‘Cora Bora,’ ‘Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes,’ ‘The People Joker’ | Image Credits: Outfest

It’s time once again to raise the curtain on one of the biggest and best queer events of the summer, Outfest!

This week, Los Angeles’ premier LGBTQ+ film festival returns with an incredible lineup, bearing the defiant theme “Future Without Fear.” From July 14-24, the star-studded event takes over some of the city’s most iconic venues, featuring more than 170 films representing 25 countries. Plus, a large number of Outfest’s titles will be made available through the virtual program, so film lovers from all over can join in on the celebration.

As always, the fest’s roster is jam-packed with can’t-miss events from world premieres to special screenings to shorts programs, panels, parties, and so much more. Things kick off opening night with a screening of highly anticipated coming-of-age story Aristotle And Dante And The Secrets Of The Universe—featuring a red-carpet roll-out for the stars at the historic Orpheum Theatre—and celebrations wrap up 11 days later with a closing night ceremony featuring illuminating pop doc Chasing Chasing Amy. And, in between… well, where do we even begin???

Long story short, Outfest 2023 is going to be another one for the books. In anticipation, Queerty has assembled a preview of this year’s fest, shouting out 10 of the most exciting feature films to screen at this year’s fest that you’ll want to check out. And, below that is a list of even more must-see features we’ve previously highlighted on the site.

We have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot more about these movies in the future, so be sure to add them to your watch list!


Image Credit: ‘Asog,’ Outfest

After a hurricane devastates their coastal town, school teacher and aspiring comedian Rey (Jaya) thinks they’ve found their path to fame and fortune: the Ms. Gay Sicogan pageant. So, they set off with little more than a pink suitcase and their friend Arnel in tow, chasing their dreams to the beautiful island community in this raw yet surprisingly hilarious story of queer resilience, one steeped in the rich traditions of Filipino culture and myth. This word-of-mouth gem boasts queer icons Joel Kim Booster and Alan Cumming among its producers.

Screening Sunday, July 16.

Bones And Names (Knochen Und Namen)

Image Credit: ‘Bones And Names’ Outfest

Another international delight worth checking out is this dramedy from German actor-turned-director Fabian Stumm (who can be seen in ’21’s excellent gay prison drama, Great Freedom). At the center of Bones And Names is longtime gay couple Boris (Stumm himself) and Jonathan (Knut Berger), who still love each other, but find they’re losing their spark. Boris, an actor, gets close with his sexy co-star, while Jonathan, a writer, buries himself deeper into his next novel, both rebelling against romantic complacency in their own way.

Screening Thursday, July 20.

Cora Bora

Image Credit: ‘Cora Bora’ Outfest

Hi gay! If you’ve been online at all in the past three years, surely you know Cora Bora star Meg Stalter, who broke through with viral comedy videos and has been stealing scenes in Hacks ever since. In her first starring film role, Stalter plays a flailing Los Angeles transplant who journeys back home to Portland in an attempt to salvage her long-distance relationship with her girlfriend, causing chaos every step of the way. The comedy also stars The Good Place hunk Manny Jacinto, Twenties star Jojo T. Gibbs, and comedy legend Margaret Cho.

Screening Sunday, July 16.

Down Low

Image Credit: ‘Down Low,’ Outfest

In the first half of 2023 alone, rising star Lukas Gage has gotten married, engaged in some water sports on You, and been threatened and blackmailed on The Other Two. But none of that can compare to the wild antics of Down Low, the pitch-black comedy he wrote and stars in opposite Zachary Quinto, directed by Bonding‘s Rightor Doyle. It’s the story of a recently out divorcée (Quinto), the reckless masseur he hires for a happy ending (Gage), and the increasingly dark and dangerous series of events they find themselves tangled in.

Screening Saturday, July 15, and available to stream virtually from July 17 -23.

Egghead & Twinkie

Image Credit: ‘Egghead & Twinkie,’ Outfest

After finally coming out to her adoptive parents, teenaged Twinkie (Sabrina Jie-A-Fa) strikes up an internet flirtation with her famous DJ crush, and decides to embark on a 500-mile roadtrip away from her Florida home so they can meet IRL. She easily convinces her shy and nerdy friend, Egghead (Louis Tomeo), to tag along, but he’s got his own feelings for his longtime bestie to work through. Colorful and quirky with imaginative animated flourishes, Egghead & Twinkie is queer coming-of-age story crossed with a buddy comedy road-trip adventure.

Screening Friday, July 21, and available to stream virtually from July 17 -23.


Image Credit: “F.L.Y.,’ Outfest

Making its world premiere at Outfest is this charming indie comedy about exes Max and Rafael (played by the film’s writer-directors, Trent Kendrick and Rafael Albarran) who—due to COVID related circumstances—are stuck quarantining together after five years apart. But it gets more complicated because there’s a new boyfriend tangled up with them, plus the fact that Rafael had just moved to Los Angeles with hopes of becoming America’s next drag superstar. Can this odd couple with a whole lot of history stick it out in such close quarters?

Screening Tuesday, July 18.

Hidden Master: The Legacy Of George Platt Lines

Image Credit: ‘Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes,’ Outfest

George Platt Lynes was one of the first artists to make a name for himself as a celebrity photographer, gaining acclaim in the ’30s and ’40s with his editorial and commercial work. But, lesser known to the public eye was his work photographing the male nude: erotic, provocative, and way ahead of its time. Re-contextualizing years of Lynes’ under-appreciated work, Sam Shahid’s documentary unpacks the legacy and influence of one of our country’s first openly gay artists, also exploring his friendships with Alfred Kinsey, Gertrude Stein, and more.

Screening Sunday, July 16, and available to stream virtually from July 24 – 30.

The People’s Joker

Image Credit: ‘The People’s Joker,’ Outfest

Run, don’t walk, to see The People’s Joker because you may never have a chance to see it again. From trans filmmaker Vera Drew comes this wild comedy which plays fast and loose with copyright, using the characters of Batman and the DC Comics universe to tell the idiosyncratic coming-out tale of a wannabe comedian and their battle with a fascist caped crusader. After its buzzy premiere at TIFF, Drew received an angry letter from a certain “media conglomerate” warning against screening the film again, so it’s a miracle this is happening.

Screening Saturday, July 15.


Image Credit: ‘Perpetrator,’ Outfest

Burgeoning genre director Jennifer Reeder delivers a bloody good time with her coming-of-age thrill ride, Perpetrator. Mare Of Easttown‘s Kiah McKirnan stars as Jonny, a rebellious student sent to live with her Aunt Hildie (Clueless icon Alicia Silverstone) and attend a prestigious private school. But, on her birthday, a mysterious family spell changes her in monstrous ways—a power she tries to harness when a number of her classmates go missing. Grippy, gory, and darkly funny, this isn’t your average high school movie.

Screening Friday, July 14.

Studio One Forever

Image Credit: ‘Studio One Forever,’ Outfest

Turn back time to revisit the legendary West Hollywood disco, Studio One, and its adjoining nightclub, The Backlot. After opening in ’74, it quickly became the place to be, the party spot where the gays could mingle with Hollywood’s rising stars and dance the night away. But beyond that, it was a safe space for a queer community still fighting for acceptance, and throughout the AIDS epidemic. Though the club closed long ago and its building demolished, this doc stands as a shimmering time capsule to this crucial piece of LGBTQ+ history.

Screening Tuesday, July 18.

Even More Outfest Films To Look Out For

Beyond what we’ve highlighted above, Outfest will be screening a number of exciting features we’ve previously mentioned in other festival previews, or covered when their trailers have dropped. Details for each are below with links to where you can read more about them on Queerty:

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One Comment*

  • Kangol2

    It looks like there are lots of intriguing films at this year’s Outfest, and great that most go beyond the typical teen coming out stories, etc. More films about non-rich LGBTQ people not in some of crisis would be refreshing too, because there countless stories of ours that have yet to make it to the big screen (or smaller TV ones).

    I’ll add that overtly queer political films like Chocolate Babies are especially needed right now!

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